Friday 28 May 2010

44 years of hurt....

According to a report from a law firm which is no doubt getting ready to cash in on the fall-out, the divorce rate looks set to rocket over the next six weeks as the predominantly male members of the species prepare to chain themselves to a plasma screen near you for the full-on quadrennial orgy of international football.

This is an occasion which suddenly strikes at the heart of our national patriotism as every corner of the kingdom from Carlisle and Berwick to Penzance and Dover becomes bedecked with St George’s flags. And every other car heading down the M4 has those ubiquitous flags fluttering away at the rate of a humming bird’s wing-beat.

And again every newspaper headline will include either in full or in part that well-known call to arms from a certain hero of mine, “England expects that every man will do his duty.”

So, how about it, O Ye Chosen 23? (Why 23?) That includes every man from the mature male model with a penchant for pink sweaters in goal to the Shrek impersonator up front! Can they really end 44 years of hurt?

Well, the way I see it is simply que sera sera. We whip ourselves up into an unsustainable frenzy every time we get a whiff of the golden ice-cream cone and then have to take a week off work to get over the disappointment of being also-rans for yet another four years.

I will not be paying too much attention, hate to say. I was married to a sports journalist for ten years so witnessed more than my fair share of the beautiful game in that time, both televised and live. One of the highlights was seeing Bournemouth losing to Grimsby in the Auto Windscreens Shield final at the old Wembley!

And as my ex is a fanatical Pompey fan while I was once a Southampton season-ticket holder - our wedding cake was covered in green icing with goalposts, Subbuteo players and the legend "Match of the Day" iced on it - it was all going to end in hurt.

Anyway, back to the plot. What are the chances without the odd dodgy metatarsal getting in the way? Well on paper, there is no reason why Ingerland 2010 should not make some significant headway in RSA. We keep being told what world-class players we have and on paper, it all looks pretty damn fine with that heady mixture of maturity and yoof.

And with Goldenballs there to inspire them from the touchline, what could possibly go wrong? Then the image of the petulant Blessed Tattooed One throwing his toys out of the cot against Argentina in France circa 1998 comes to mind.........

The biggest fear is that we could end up this tournament with a hat-trick of chokers which will vilify the fall guy on a much larger scale than either Chris Waddle or Stuart Pearce could muster. So if included in the final squad, Ledley King, Glen Johnson and James Milner need to start practising their pens as they are in my top three of those who could possibly chuck the championship for us.

So forgive me if I do not whip myself up into a frenzy over this one. I have the fortune of remembering the World Cup Final at Wembley in 1966 but I hope that everyone born in the interregnum will have the pleasure of seeing the boys finally doing it. There is nothing to stop them going all the way.

England expects......

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